If you and your spouse or partner are separating, a formal separation agreement can give you some certainty as to how your assets and liabilities will be dealt with during your separation.
It can be very helpful to set out who will take on responsibilities as well as issues such as who will stay in your shared home. By negotiating matters early on and reaching an agreement, it can reduce conflict as well as make the difficult process of separating less stressful.
It is important to take legal advice from solicitors specialised in separation agreements before signing. As well as ensuring that your interests are protected, it will also make it more likely that a court will follow the terms of the agreement if asked to do so. Where someone has signed a separation agreement without being advised by a solicitor, the court may be more likely to decide to make different provisions in the future.
An experienced family law solicitor will be able to guide you as to the clauses you should include and negotiate on your behalf with your partner’s solicitor to ensure the agreement is as advantageous as possible.
At Heringtons Solicitors, our separation solicitors can work with you to draw up a comprehensive agreement. We can also advise you on your options for the future in respect of issues such as children, property, finances and divorce.
For more information in respect of our services, see our separation and divorce information.
Get in touch with our separation agreements solicitors in East Sussex
Our clients come to us from across East Sussex, including Rother and Wealden, for our leading reputation in family law.
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Our separation agreements fees
We always endeavour to keep our costs to a minimum. We will provide you with a clear estimate of the costs at the outset, and our separation agreement lawyers will review this at every stage of your case so that you will know exactly how much our legal advice will be.
We are able to offer fixed fees for some work as well as flexible funding arrangements such as deferred fee agreements in some instances.
Separation agreements FAQs
What is a separation agreement?
A separation agreement or deed of separation is a formal document listing how a couple will deal with their assets and responsibilities once they have separated. It can be used by both married and unmarried couples.
How do separation agreements work?
The agreement will list individual assets and liabilities and set out what will happen to them. It will give you some certainty as to what is expected of you both and help you to avoid arguments going forward by ensuring you both have detailed information covering your situation.
Even if you are able to agree on issues amicably, if you do not have a separation agreement in place, there is scope for misunderstandings and disputes to arise in the future if you cannot remember exactly what was agreed or you do not have an accurate record of it that you can rely on.
A separation agreement can also be helpful if you do ultimately decide to divorce. It can form the basis of a financial agreement, and the court can be asked to make a consent order in similar terms.
When should you get a separation agreement?
If you are married and separating, a separation agreement can help you have some certainty until you decide whether you wish to divorce. It can also be an alternative to divorce for those who may still wish to remain married.
If you are not married, a separation agreement can set out how you will deal with joint matters after separation.
What can a separation agreement include?
A separation agreement will be tailored to your unique circumstances. The following points are often included:
- A list of your assets and how they will be shared between you
- A list of liabilities and who will take responsibility for them
- What will happen to shared property, for example, who will continue to live there, who will pay the mortgage and whether it will be sold or transferred
- What payments will be made in respect of any children involved
- What will happen to valuable items
- What will happen to pets
If you have children, then you will generally be advised to put a parenting plan in place as well, although it is open to you to include some elements of this in your separation agreement.
How long does it take to get a separation agreement?
How long it will take will depend on how complex your financial situation is and how quickly we are able to reach an agreement with your former partner and their solicitors. If your situation is fairly straightforward and agreement is reached quickly, a separation agreement can be put in place in a matter of weeks.
Are separation agreements legally binding?
Separation agreements are not legally binding. However, when the court is satisfied on certain points, it will often follow the terms of a separation agreement if it is asked to make an order at a later date, for example, when putting a financial order in place on divorce. These points are as follows:
- The parties have both made full financial disclosure of their assets and liabilities
- The parties have entered into the agreement of their own free will and were not pressured to do so
- Both parties received independent legal advice before signing the agreement
- The agreement is fair, and the parties’ circumstances have not changed substantially since it was signed
When making a financial consent order, the court will always endeavour to ensure that both of the parties’ reasonable needs are met. If the separation agreement does not do this, then the court may not follow it. If children are involved, their welfare will be the court’s first priority.
When does a separation agreement end?
You can choose how long you would like your separation agreement to last. The period of two years is sometimes used as it is possible to divorce after two years where both parties agree. This period will be reduced to six months when the new ‘no-fault’ ‘divorce legislation is introduced.
Can I enforce a separation agreement?
While a separation agreement is not legally binding in the way that a court order is, it is still a contract, and as such, you can ask the court to impose remedies for breach of contract if your partner does not comply with the terms of the agreement.
A well-drafted separation agreement will usually include provisions for dealing with disputes or breaches of the agreement. The first step will generally be some sort of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, to try and reach an agreement without the need for litigation.
The court can require the party in breach to remedy the situation or to pay damages.
Get in touch with our separation agreement solicitors in East Sussex
Or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch shortly.